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Nebraska native traveling from Omaha to Poland, restoring dignity to Ukrainian refugees through art

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 20:04:50-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Healing through creativity. That's the goal of Suzanne Horwich, a Nebraska native and founder of Artists Giving Back.

She leaves Omaha on Sunday for her second trip to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees.

During her first trip six weeks ago, she realized that "once the emergency needs have been met — food, housing, shelter, medicine, trauma therapy — there are secondary needs.

"The secondary needs really are returning the dignity to the refugee and removing the refugee out of victim state, back to human," Horwich said.

It is all through her program, Artists Giving Back.

"It is so apparent to me, the struggle that the women are facing. They are in a new country. Their husbands are either deceased, fighting, held captive and it's all women and it's all grandmothers," Horwich said.

As the refugees line up at the Jewish Community Center in Krakow she invites them to come create.

"I set up a table and stations with the different art materials and I let them freely create," Horwich said.

She says the artworks include images of butterflies, flowers and almost always their homes.

"Rainbows, rainbows with a picture of their home and they love to draw the Ukrainian flag with hearts," Horwich said.

Although she does not speak their language Horwich said she has been able to create a community.

"We are really speaking the language of art. I don't have a translator and we sit and we paint all day and we bead and we drink coffee and we laugh," Horwich said.

And with that, she says the dignity begins to return.

"These people are so resilient. I had no idea what I was walking into and I was just so astounded by the resilience and I would go back to my hotel room every night and cry, Not out of sorrow, but just this awe," Horwich said.

She hopes to collaborate with other artists and continue to help people displaced by conflict, crisis and climate.

To help provide art supplies for refugees and support the cause, visit artistsgivingback.org

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